Tales from the Trail

Obamas celebrate White House Thanksgiving with…6 pies


It’s pies, pies, and more pies at the White House Thanksgiving dinner table this year.

First Lady Michelle Obama, an advocate against child obesity, told an interviewer that it was OK for folks to eat pie on Thanksgiving, and as if to set an example, the White House released a list of the SIX pies the Obama family and its friends would be enjoying on Thursday.

Apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, banana cream, cherry, and huckleberry pies were all on the Obama list. 

Sweets weren’t the only items on the table, though. Here is the rest of the menu released by the White House:



Cornbread Stuffing

Oyster Stuffing


Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole

Macaroni and Cheese

Dinner Rolls

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing (Obama pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey in the White House Rose Garden, Nov. 24, 2010)

Michelle Obama, Laura Bush to appear together at 9/11 memorial

michelle_laura2First lady Michelle Obama and her predecessor, Laura Bush, will appear together next month in Pennsylvania at a ceremony marking the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama and Bush will participate in ceremonies honoring the victims of the attacks, including the 40 passengers and crew killed in the crash of United Flight 93, the National Park Foundation said in a statement on Monday.

“Their show of support honors the lives and memories of these 40 heroes and everyone we lost on September 11th, and serves as a valuable reminder of how important this memorial is to preserve and share their story,” National Park Foundation President Neil Mulholland said.

Mrs. Obama makes good on a promise

michele_gw2“Well, I am a woman of my word,” first lady Michelle Obama said Sunday, making good on a promise as  she spoke at the  George Washington University graduation ceremony.

In September,  Obama issued a challenge to the GWU class of 2010 – promising that if students performed 100,000 hours of community service during the school year, she would speak at their commencement ceremony.

Students at the university a few blocks from the White House more than met the challenge and Obama kept her word.

Michelle Obama almost inaugurates Hillary

Michelle Obama paid a visit to the State Department on Wednesday for a ceremony honoring courageous women from around the world — and almost went overboard in the honorifics for her host,  Hillary Clinton.USA/

“This is indeed a pleasure and an honor to be here with all of you, you all look fabulous!” Obama told a roomful of honorees for the International Women of Courage Awards, an annual event.

Turning to Clinton — her husband’s erstwhile rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination — Obama kept up the good cheer.

Applause (and hints on clapping) for classical music

The East Room of the White House was turned into a chamber ringing with classical music from celebrities such as violinist Joshua Bell on Wednesday as part of the fourth installment in First Lady Michelle Obama’s ongoing performance series.


President Barack Obama welcomed the hushed crowd, which included a handful of high school musicians and members of Congress, by telling those unsure of when to applaud during classical performances they were not alone.

Former President John F. Kennedy had the same problem, he said, until he enlisted his social secretary to discreetly signal him to clap.

The First Draft: Iran …and the Olympics

When President Barack Obama was running for president, he was heavily criticized by his rivals — including his current secretary of state, Hillary Clinton — for saying he would be willing to sit down with the leaders of countries like Iran.NUCLEAR-IRAN/

Well, today is the day the United States takes part for the first time as a “full participant” in talks between Iran and six world powers to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program.

Obama is not participating but he will likely be closely following results of the one-day talks in Geneva. U.S. officials have said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns — the head of the American delegation — would not actively seek a one-on-one meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator but would not reject one if the opportunity arose.

White House garden lead scare a bit overblown

Read the Web much and you might think first lady Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden has turned into a lead-laden nightmare that threatens to poison the first family and any stray child gardener who happens onto the White House grounds.
Not so says the first lady’s office.
OBAMA/The White House had the soil tested for safety purposes, and the results showed lead at 93 parts per million — higher than typical background levels in urban areas, but low enough not to be considered a health risk.
Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences, for example, says anything under 150 parts per million is either not contaminated or has very low lead contamination. It does not recommend any action for gardening in soils with those lead levels.
“The garden recently underwent extensive soil testing that proved it is completely safe,” said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, the first lady’s press secretary.
“A lead level of 93 parts per million is significantly better than the government standard for a garden like this. The White House Kitchen Garden Team is committed to producing fresh, safe and healthy food as a learning opportunity about healthy eating, and they’ll continue to do so.”
While the garden is often referred to as being organic, the White House says it his never made that claim. It takes three years to certify an organic garden, with different standards applying.
Children from Bancroft Elementary School helped Michelle Obama break ground on the garden back in March and returned in April to plant seedlings.
They were back again in mid-June for harvesting. The garden produced lettuce, snap peas, beans, kale, collards and chard, White House associate chef Sam Kass said at the time. It also has produced broccoli, green beans, an eggplant, a cucumber and herbs.
No chemicals, fertilizer or herbicides were used on the garden, though lime, greens and compost and crab shell meal were added to the earth.
Most food crops do well in slightly acidic soil. Adding lime reduces the soil’s acidity and also lowers the impact of lead. Greensand adds iron and potassium and other elements. Crab meal is rich in calcium, nitrogen and potassium, making it a good organic fertilizer.
For more Reuters political news, please click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Top: Obama harvesting garden with school kids in mid-June; Bottom: Obama planting herbs in early April)